#WorldDoulaWeek 2021: A local doula shares how COVID-19 has an impact on her job

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EUREKA, Ill. (WMBD) — World Doula Week ran from March 22-28. This year’s hashtag: #DoulasFindaWay. The campaign focused on how doulas operated throughout COVID-19.

Every year, March 22 (also the spring equinox) recognizes the start of World Doula Week. The initiative began in Israel in 2011. Doulas serve as professional caregivers and educators to expecting mothers.

Jessica Stafford is a Eureka native and full-time professional doula. She said the pandemic halted many of her plans. She could not be in the room when some of her clients gave birth this past year. But, she said hospitals are starting to open up.

Stafford said her profession has become her passion. The founded Rose Doula Services.

“Helping moms and dads and being in the trenches with them, during their first post-partum days, the first 20,30, 40 days, is really awesome,” Stafford said. “I think until you have personally experienced doula support, it’s hard to really understand what a doula can bring.”

Stafford said she gets many questions about her job and what her services would include. She said it ranges from birthing classes, to comforting labor techniques to placenta encapsulation. Ultimately, though, she said her purpose is to focus on the woman giving birth.

“It’s 2021, and everyone’s job is streamlined. So everyone is running at 110 miles an hour at their job and they’re spread really thin,” Stafford said, “whereas a doula can come in as a role that’s specifically and only for the mom and the partner, or the birthing family.”

Stafford said she has her master’s degree in education and taught seventh-grade science and social studies for seven years. Initially, she just wanted to teach birth courses but said she fell in love with doula work.

“I’m now in the homes, with the families, teaching them about how their bodies birth and how to basically bring comfort to them and to reduce fear,” Stafford said. “I think those are the two biggest things as a labor-support doula that I can do. I can bring my calm into the birthing space.”

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